Buyer’s Guide: Lawn Sprinklers

Think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? You might need to invest in a better sprinkler. Check out our suggestions to help you keep up with the Joneses.

Best Lawn Sprinklers


While your yard may take its fair share of work to maintain and manicure, it can actually be pretty easy to keep it from browning. The key to a lush green lawn is selecting and investing in a reliable lawn sprinkler. Hook nearly any of today’s models up to your garden hose or water main, in the case of underground systems, and the bulk of your work is done—the most effort required on your part might be moving the sprinkler across your lawn. Here, we’ve got the break-down of the wide variety of models on the market to determine which type of lawn sprinkler is best for you and your property. Once you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for, take a stroll through several high-ranking recommendations that will keep things greener on your side of the fence—not the other side.

Know your sprinkler types. Generally speaking, lawn sprinklers fall into six categories, ranging from immobile to actually roaming in order to cover the full property. Consider the size and style of your lawn, the climate you live in, and how much water you want to conserve as you decide which type of system best meets your specific needs. Here’s a cheat sheet:

• Fixed or stationary sprinklers vary in design and reach, but each connects to your hose and sprays water in the same pattern over the same area until moved. Typically only able to cover a radius of 5 to 15 feet at a time, this type is best for small yards and gardens.

• Oscillating sprinklers use a row of multiple openings to disperse water in a semicircular spray. The sprinkler head—as well as the resulting fan of water—then moves from side to side, so your irrigation covers a larger area than most stationary models.

• Rotating (or rotary) and impact sprinklers both spin 360 degrees as they release water. The former typically has two or more arms that spin, while the latter (sometimes known as an impulse or pulsating sprinkler) spews water from a single jet, clicking as it turns its full rotation. These impact sprinklers often boast the largest range of water distribution.

• Sprinkler hoses are, as they sound, essentially rubber hoses with small perforations lined along the top that emit a controlled spray. The length and flexibility of these models work perfectly to water long, narrow, and even irregularly curved patches of grass since they stretch out over your property like a vine.

• Travelers or traveling sprinklers roll through your yard (garden hose in tow) in a programmed pattern, kind of like a miniature lawnmower—except, of course, watering your grass rather than cutting it.

• In-ground sprinkler systems take the guesswork out of watering your yard by operating on a set schedule. While there’s more effort upfront to map out, dig up your property, and connect a new system to your water main, the strategically placed sprinkler heads can be programmed to emerge from the ground and water the lawn at preset times.

Timing is everything. With water restrictions in place all over the West Coast and conservation an all-around hot topic, at-home irrigation can require extensive planning—and a trusty alarm clock—to keep personal water usage in check without drying out your property. Luckily, plenty of popular lawn sprinklers come equipped with features to make sure your thirsty lawn gets just the right amount of refreshment. Perhaps the most hands-off approach to watering, automatic timers on in-ground sprinkler systems allow you to schedule exact watering plans (when, where, and how much water) in advance. For above-ground sprinklers, the most comparable features to look for include flow timers, which monitor and limit the amount of water you use to irrigate your lawn per minute, and the auto-shutoff on traveling sprinklers, which ensures that your mobile unit stops watering after completion of its pattern. By selecting a model with one or more of these features, you can more closely control your water usage—and some time you might otherwise spend worrying about when to turn these lawn sprinklers on and off.



After thoroughly comparing lawn sprinkler reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly-rated models available today to help you find one that fits your home’s needs and wallet’s budget. Check out the best lawn sprinklers for greener grass this summer:


Best Lawn Sprinkler - Gardena ZoomMaxx Oscillating Sprinkler


Gardena ZoomMaxx Oscillating Sprinkler on Weighted Sled Base ($56)
Extensive research conducted by the team at The Sweethome led them to name this oscillating Gardena model as best lawn sprinkler for its highly desirable combination of durability and versatility. “No other model could water such a wide range of yard sizes and shapes with such a consistent amount of water at different distances and settings,” the web team determined; given its ability to maintain a consistent flow with no dry spots or flood risks at 1-, 5-, 10-, 15- and 25-foot ranges, the proof seems to be in the perimeters. Available on Amazon.


Best Lawn Sprinkler - Rain Bird Easy-to-Install In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System


Rain Bird Easy-to-Install In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System ($129)
If you’re interested in an in-ground system that you can “set and forget,” you may want to check out the easy-installation model garnering the highest customer satisfaction ratings out of all its peers available at The Home Depot. The manufacturer’s first professional-grade system designed for homeowner installation includes six high-efficiency, 360-degree rotary sprinkler heads and attaches to an outdoor faucet rather than a water main valve for installation in five steps, or a single afternoon!  Available at The Home Depot.


Best Lawn Sprinkler - Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler


Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler ($50)
Send this classic yellow tractor on a mission to irrigate any and all parts of your lawn with its easy-to-guide path throughout your property using its hose as a track. The traveler moves at one of three speeds across your lawn, up and down hills, and covers up to 13,500 square feet with water thanks to its two adjustable sprinkler arms. With the ability to automatically shut off wherever you specify along its track, this traveling sprinkler proves to be the next best option to a full-fledged, in-ground system. Available at Amazon.

See? No matter what the song says, it is easy being green. Happy watering!


Once you find the right lawn sprinkler, you need to know how to use it. We’ve got advice on the right way to water the grass. Watch our video to learn more.